James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:13 P.M. EDT
MS. MCENANY: Hello everyone. The transition to greatness has officially begun. Friday’s jobs report was encouraging, to say the absolute least. The jobs in this country — we had more than 2.5 million added. The prediction was that 7.5 million jobs would be lost. This was a 10 million swing toward the positive side and, in fact, the greatest number of jobs created in a single month on record. That is extraordinary. 225,000 manufacturing jobs, 464,000 thousand construction jobs, and 1.2 million leisure and hospitality jobs were all added in May.
Beyond that, the number of workers who reported being on temporary layoffs decreased by 2.7 million in May. And more than that — and this was a great number that was pointed out to me today by the CEA — 300- — 300,000 jobs were created for black Americans in particular. That’s in May, and that was a 1.7 percent increase. So very encouraging numbers there from the CEA that they highlighted for me — BLS numbers that they highlighted.
May’s jump in average weekly hours also was an encouraging sign because increasing hours is a sign that employees need to hire — employers need to hire more workers to meet demand. For all private-sector employees, average weekly hours increased by 0.5 percent to 34.7 hours — the highest level since the series began in 2006. Seventy-three percent of small businesses are open. That is up from the 52 percent right before the April jobs report reference period. Also, workplace visits are up roughly 40 percent from its pandemic low.
The stock market is absolutely soaring. We saw with the S&P that it had its greatest 50-day rally in history. The Dow, likewise, is also booming. The markets clearly have confidence in President Trump — the jobs President who created the hottest economy in modern history once and will do it again.
Also commentators and economists have noted how great this jobs report was. Yesterday, we saw Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic advisor at Allianz, say this will go down in history as the biggest positive data shock for the markets and the economy. And you saw how surprised the markets were. They surged on Friday, capping a strong week, with the NASDAQ closing at a record high. He said it was also very surprising to the economists — not a single one thought that we would create jobs; everybody expected the unemployment rate would go up. It did not.
Also, senior economic correspondent at the New York Times Neil Irwin noted that we have to think that the May unemploy- — the May employment numbers count as a strong win for PPP supporters. Obviously, the President signed that into law and has been a — been a big cheerleader of the PPP.
Typical economists missed it by 10 million, as I noted at the top of the briefing. Ten million. That’s bigger than the entire state of Michigan, nearly, and that’s how much economists were off.
Why is this happening? Well, it’s happening because America has taken note of the fact that we have a President who ushered in the hottest economy in modern history. Record-low unemployment for black Americans, for Hispanic Americans, for the disabled, for our veterans. Paychecks were beginning to rise under the President Donald Trump economy. We have the great jobs creator in office, and America clearly has confidence in this President.
You have a President who fundamentally understands how to put this country back to work, and we saw that in action with the Friday jobs report.
And with that, I’ll take questions. So, I’ll start with John.
Q Kayleigh, what’s the President’s thinking on this growing movement to either defund or dismantle police forces across the country? And what reforms does the President think would be appropriate in the wake of the George Floyd killing?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, it’s a really good question. The President is appalled by the Defund the Police movement. The fact that you have sitting congresswomen wanting to defund the police — notably Rashida Tlaib; notably Biden advisor AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; former Clinton and Eric Holder spokesperson Brian Fallon wanting to defund our police across this country — it is extraordinary.
And when you think the left has gone far and they couldn’t possibly go farther, because we all remember the Defund ICE movement — they want to defund Immigration and Custom Enforcement and now they want to defund the police. This is extraordinary. This is rolling back the protective layers that protect Americans in their homes and in their places of business. He’s appalled by it, and it’s remarkable to hear this coming from today’s Democrat Party.
As for solutions, he’s talking through a number of proposals. No announcements on that. But he definitely, as he’s noted, recognizes the horrid injustice done to George Floyd and is taking a look at various proposals.
Q Does the President agree with any of the mayors across the country who are saying, “I think we can take some of the money from policing and put it toward other programs that could be effective in community development,” which could lead to the potential for a less- — a lesser need for policing?
MS. MCENANY: Well, let’s be clear: The mayor of L.A. wants to defund police, take money away from police. Mayor de Blasio, the mayor of New York, wants to take money away from police. That means cutting of police. That means reducing police departments. That means defunding police departments, if not getting rid of them entirely. No, he does not agree with that, and the rest of America does not agree with that.
Q I have two questions for you. As you are going over your reforms and what you think is needed, does the President feel that there is systemic racism in law enforcement?
MS. MCENANY: The President has been very clear: There are injustices in society. I’ve noted several for you that he’s pointed out as a Republican primary candidate: noting the Sandra Bland video was absolutely horrible; noting George Floyd — there’s a civil rights investigation into that. He definitely believes there are instances of racism.
But, look, he believes our law enforcement are the best in the world. He believes that, by and large, they are good people. The 750 who were injured defending this country from rioters and Antifa in the streets — as to be distinguished from the peaceful protesters — those 750 officers who were hurt defending our country were heroes — as was David Dorn, a police officer who lost his life, and Patrick Underwood, who also lost his life in the last week or so.
Q But he doesn’t think that there is systemic racism in law enforcement?
MS. MCENANY: He believes most of our police officers are good, hardworking people — there’s a lot of evidence of that — and he has great faith in our police department.
Q Okay, my second question: Does he still believe that NFL players who kneel as a form of protest against police brutality should be fired?
MS. MCENANY: The President is very much against kneeling in general. The President has made clear for years that kneeling is tied to our National Anthem, that it does not respect our military men and women across this country. He’s not a fan of the kneeling movement. He’s made that very clear, particularly because he thinks it’s disrespectful to our military, as the kneeling originated at the kneeling during the National Anthem.
Q But does he think they should be fired?
MS. MCENANY: I have no comments on that. He is against the kneeling movement, though, as he’s noted on Twitter as recently as a few days ago.
Q But you can’t say, yes, he does still —
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q — think they should be fired?
MS. MCENANY: I have no information on that, and I have not talked to him about that.
Q Is there anything in the Democrats’ Policing Act that the administration supports?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, that legislation — first of all, the text of it hasn’t even been giving — given to us. I have not talked with the President about that yet. He hasn’t reviewed it yet.
He’s looking at a number of proposals, but there are some nonstarters in there, I would say — particularly on the immunity issue. You had AG Barr saying — this weekend, he was asked about reduced immunity, and he said, “I don’t think we need to reduce immunity to go after the bad cops because that would result, certainly, in police pulling back, which is not advisable.”
So he hasn’t reviewed the legislation, but AG Barr, as a member of the administration, noted this prior to the proposal coming out.
Q Does the administration support the banning of the use of chokeholds?
MS. MCENANY: Look, the President, again, hasn’t reviewed this piece of legislation. The President is looking at what’s a state issue, what’s a federal issue right now. He’s currently reviewing proposals, actually, on this very topic about police reform. So I’ll leave it to him and not get ahead of him on that.
But, certainly, we believe that the appropriate amount of force should be used in any police interaction with an individual.
Q But two weeks after all of this civil unrest, why does the White — the White House not have a plan? The President said on Friday that his plan for combating racism is a strong economy. How does that work?
MS. MCENANY: Look, that’s an important part of combating racism is making sure that there’s equal opportunity for black Americans in this country. This President — you know, we hear a lot of words from Democrats about criminal justice reform — that they wanted this. Well, they got it with President Trump reducing racial sentencing disparities via the FIRST STEP Act.
You know, Democrats talk about economic opportunity for black Americans and people in vulnerable communities, and this President has done that with Opportunity Zones. It was a good start: more than 900 places creating private investment to help people get on their feet, to start businesses in this country, HBCUs’ record funding. This President has repeatedly, through his actions, stood up for the black community, and a big piece of that is absolutely economic reform.
And I’d finally note, on the point of economic reform: The USMCA — these trade deals; the TPP, making sure that didn’t take place — that directly advantaged hardworking men and women in Detroit who wanted their auto jobs. So the — his reformation with trade — reformation with trade and also Opportunity Zones is helping to ensure that Americans of all races have the same opportunity in the economic playing field.
Q But you’re saying he will eventually have a police reform plan?
MS. MCENANY: He is looking at various proposals. So I won’t get ahead of him. No announcements on that front. But he has been looking at them over the last few days.
Q Kayleigh, there are reports that the administration is going to be pulling troops from Germany. Can you say how many? And when and where are they going?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, what I would say on that is: First, we have no announcements at this time. I know there’s reporting out there, but, as of this moment, there are no announcements. The President is continually reassessing the best posture for the United States Military forces and our presence overseas. I mean, we remain committed to working with our strong allies.
Q Will he consult Angela Merkel before making a final decision?
MS. MCENANY: I’ll leave that to the President. Again, no announcements at this time.
Q Okay. And just one final: the new Lafayette Square fencing. Do you have any indication on when that might be removed or taken down, since the protests have become more peaceful? And who makes that decision?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, you know, I don’t have any announcements with regard to the fencing. That’s not something that’s in White House control, in terms of securing the perimeter.
But what I would say is the President has recognized that the protests have largely been peaceful. Why have they been peaceful? It’s because of the actions taken by this administration.
If you’ll notice, Minneapolis was in chaos until the National Guard came in, and then it was secure. You had outside, here in Lafayette Park — I had noted the 750 law enforcement officers that were injured across the country. Well, one fifth of those were in D.C. and the vast majority in Lafayette Park. And once the National Guard came — came in, D.C. was secure. That Monday decision by the President of encouraging governors to surge National Guard made the difference.
And the President has recognized — now that the protests are peaceful, he’s recommended a winding down of the National Guard. Very peaceful protests over the weekend. So with regard to the security of the building: not a decision for the White House. Would refer you to Secret Service and Park Services on that. But the President has recognized the peaceful protesting and is encouraged by that.
Q Kayleigh, on Hong Kong: Can you say when will the administration revoke Hong Kong’s trade status? And also, do you think that that move will be the only thing the administration does? Is there something else planned? And do you think that China will listen? Are you seeing any signs of China relenting on Hong Kong?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, we haven’t seen any updates from China thus far. No announcements with regard to the timing of that. But the President has been very clear that China has replaced its promise of “one country, two systems” with “one country, one system,” which is what led the administration to make the announcement that it would begin eliminating policy exemptions that were given to Hong Kong — the special treatment that they once had.
MS. MCENANY: Yes, Steven.
Q Is there any — a week after what we saw at Lafayette Park last Monday night, are there any people here in this building who believe that — or does the President believe that perhaps things went the way they shouldn’t have gone? Is there any regret on the part of the President or anyone here about how people were treated — people who were peacefully protesting — and how they were rushed out so violently?
MS. MCENANY: No. There is no regrets on the part of this White House because — look, I’d note that many of those decisions were not made here within the White House. It was AG Barr who made the decision to move the perimeter Monday night. Park Police also had made that decision independently when they saw the violence in Lafayette Square.
And when — before these protesters were moved by Park Police and they issued that tactical order, there were three loud warnings, and — as I believe, it was AG Barr on “Face the Nation” noted — that some of those protesters moved back and adhered to the warning, but others of those protesters started hurling objects, and that was unacceptable. And Park Police acted as they felt they needed to at that time, in response, and we stand by those actions.
Q The country and the world saw this violent clash between the people who were otherwise peacefully protesting. But really, the President is not sorry for the way things went?